So often, when we talk about the gay civil rights movement, we focus our attention on the brave drag queens of Stonewall, or the Harvey Milks, the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinsons. But one of the key players in moving equality forward was a loving mother of a gay son, Jeanne Manford, who marched in the pre-cursor to New York's Pride parade, holding her sign proclaiming: Parents Unite in Support of Our Gay Children.
Her act of love translated into the beginning of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), the major straight ally group fighting for equality. She died at her home in Daly City, California. She was 92.
Manford became active in the struggle for LGBT equality when New York police beat her son during a gay rights protest in 1972. She began a support group with a few other parents of gay and lesbian children who shared her desire to better the world for their sons and daughters. That was the seed of what now is an international organization with 350 chapters, including the one here in Tallahassee.
PFLAG National Executive Director Jody Huckaby notes that all LGBT people and straight allies owe a debt of gratitude to Manford:
"We are all beneficiaries of her courage. Jeanne Manford proved the power of a single person to transform the world. She paved the way for us to speak out for what is right, uniting the unique parent, family, and ally voice with the voice of LGBT people everywhere."
May she rest in peace and rise in glory and may light perpetual shine upon Jeanne Manford.